Currently, 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA)/sulfasalazine is used to empirically treat patients with intestinal Behcet disease (BD) without clear clinical evidence. In this study, we investigated long-term clinical outcomes and predictors of clinical relapse in patients with intestinal BD receiving 5-ASA/sulfasalazine maintenance therapy. We reviewed the medical records of all the patients with intestinal BD, who received 5-ASA/sulfasalazine therapy in a single tertiary academic medical center between March 1986 and January 2011. The cumulative probabilities of clinical relapse after remission were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Predictors of clinical relapse were identified by univariate analysis using the log-rank test and by multivariate analysis using Cox proportional hazards regression models. Among the 143 patients enrolled, 46 (32.2%) had a clinical relapse while they were being treated with 5-ASA/sulfasalazine therapy. The cumulative relapse rates at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years after remission were 8.1%, 22.6%, 31.2%, and 46.7%, respectively. By multivariate analysis, a younger age (<35 y) at the time of diagnosis, higher C-reactive protein level (≥1.5 mg/dL), and a higher disease activity index for intestinal Behcet disease score (≥60) at the time of 5-ASA/sulfasalazine initiation were independent predictors of relapse in patients with intestinal BD receiving 5-ASA/sulfasalazine maintenance therapy. This study has shown that 5-ASA/sulfasalazine therapy has a positive effect in maintaining remission in patients with intestinal BD. However, a younger age (<35 y), higher C-reactive protein level (≥1.5 mg/dL), and a higher disease activity index for intestinal Behcet disease score (≥60) were associated with a poor response to 5-ASA/sulfasalazine therapy, making careful observation and intensive treatment necessary in these risk groups.
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